The Invitation is a tedious eat-the-rich, baffling romance, and fangless vampire story in one.
Evie (Nathalie Emmanuel) is a struggling artist working as a freelancer for a catering service. Without any relatives after the death of her mother, she decides to take a DNA test out of curiosity. Evie discovers that she has relatives in England through her great-grandmother. Invited by a newfound distant cousin, she goes to a family wedding in the English countryside. At first, she’s welcomed at the manor and gets the attention of its lord Walter De Ville (Thomas Doherty). However, the truth about her invitation hides a dark family secret that will change her life forever.
The Invitation is a cross between Ready or Not and Get Out with a supernatural twist. The movie presents itself as a gothic thriller with a fitting set design and atmosphere. The highlight of the movie is the dinner when the story explains Evie’s real purpose.
Unfortunately, before you get to this scene when The Invitation finally takes off, the movie spends more than half of its time setting up a plot twist that it already revealed in the trailer. The Invitation is left with around 30 minutes to resolve its story with predictable lackluster action scenes. It’s a half-assed girl power moment where the movie’s GOT alum lead actress deserved better.
Worse, the build-up to the supposed big reveal doesn’t give you much. Shadows lurk in the dark and grab hapless servants in creepy rooms. These scenes are done with herky-jerky visual effects and dim lighting. There’s a pair of guests who seem to know what’s really going on, but Stephanie Corneliussen and Alana Bolden are underutilized. The movie makes a poor attempt to hide its monsters and focuses on a love story instead.
As soon as Evie arrives in the manor you’ll already know that there’s going to be a romance with Walter. Emmanuel and Doherty do what they can to sell this love story but they have zero chemistry. It’s also hard to believe that the worldly Evie (the awkward uncomfortable fact of being related to a British family as a black woman is not lost on her), would fall in love with Walter within one night.
Perhaps she’s under a spell? nope. Rather than build upon a formula, The Invitation chooses to get by with the bare minimum. It could’ve been a fun eat-the-rich story with horror creatures known for their centuries-old wealth. Unfortunately, the writers behind this horror thriller don’t have aspirations beyond a mediocre riff on a well-known yet vague aspect of Dracula’s mythology by Bram Stoker.
In the end, The Invitation is too little too late.
The Invitation is a contemporary gothic take on a part of Dracula's mythology with tedious and lackluster results.